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Teens and teen parents Government priority

Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development


19 November 2013 Media Statement

Teens and teen parents Government priority

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says investing in teenagers and teen parents will pay dividends as they grow up better equipped for life.

“I’m particularly passionate about helping teen parents. They have a tough few years ahead of them and need all the help we can give.”

“We have a responsibility to be clear on our expectations of them and support them into adulthood,” says Mrs Bennett.

“This Government has consistently prioritised teens and teen parents with education, training, apprenticeships and specialist services like Supported Homes and Teen Parent Units,” says Mrs Bennett.

Through the benefit system, the $148 million Youth Services support around 1,400 teen parents and 2,200 16-18 year olds to be in education or training and do budgeting and parenting courses.

“They no longer get cash in their hand, bills are paid, they get grocery money loaded onto a payment card and they get some pocket money.”

“We attach them to a youth services provider who helps them navigate life, working out how to pay the bills, budget their money and get ahead.”

Around 460 teen parents on benefit are using the Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment and other subsidies, so they can access education and attend parenting courses while their children are cared for.

We also invested $80 million for Early Childhood Education to remove barriers to education and employment for teen parents.

More than 9,000 young people considered NEET (not in employment, education or training) are also provided with these services through Work and Income, even though they’re not on benefit.

“We’re seeing real results, with the NEET rate (Household Labour Force Survey) for 15-19 year olds declining consistently since March 2011.”

The NEET rate for 15-24 year olds is now 11.4 per cent, the lowest since December 2008.

The National Government invested $6.2 million to introduce seven Supported Homes for teen parents providing round the clock, adult supervision.

“So far 138 mums and their babies have lived in these warm, safe homes with caring adults trained to help them learn to care for, feed, clothe and bathe their babies as well as cook for themselves and juggle a household.”

“Support is extended to the fathers of those babies where possible too, on top of Parenting Support for Teen Fathers, also introduced by National in 2010.”

Minister Bennett is also leading work to progress Supported Flatting for teens, to provide a path to independence for those who need a little more help.

We also committed $7.9 million for teen parent intensive case workers and volunteer supporters to help teen parents get educational and other services.

Mrs Bennett says as well as this support, there are job subsidies, apprenticeships and free training for teenagers disengaged from school.

“We’re doing all we can to help teens and teen parents have a better future and it’s making a real difference,” says Mrs Bennett.

We have seen teen birth numbers fall for the last three years – despite rising previously. And the birth rate for teens is at its lowest since 1962.

“I’d put that down to better use of contraception and greater numbers of teens in education, the areas this Government made significant investment in.”


ENDS


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